Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Post #271 - January 16, 17, 1944 I Find Myself Taking More Than a Passing Interest in Writing and Ida Haendel Plays, Tenderly, Sweetly, with the Song of the Violin a Woman’s Whispered Caress


January 17, 1944 


Yours of Dec. 27 and January 7 arrived simultaneously—as you say, unpredictable are the ways of the post office. The latter made me feel unusually good. Naturally— most of it complimented me. I don't have to tell you how much it means to me to have you think so highly of my “literary sufficiency.” I find it easier after daily practice to say what I wish with the word's most expressive of my thoughts. I guess practice makes perfect—huh? Besides, I find myself taking more than a passing interest in writing. The clipping from S & D’s Extract with the news that Mark is also in England sounds good. Hope you get to see “a familiar face” soon. 

I changed Adele’s routine a bit today by bathing her after lunch and then she took her afternoon nap. You ought to see Adele walk around this place! She's in every nook and cranny and doesn't miss a trick. A tiny thread or a piece of dirt never escapes her attention. She does all her tricks if she likes the person requesting them. She looks good enough to eat when she rolls on the floor like a puppy or shows her pretty dress to someone. She sings on request and never never tires of dancing. She looks mighty pretty—all in rose. I'm wearing my blue wool. 

Also received a letter from Syd. He can't get over the fact, as everyone else, that Adele is such a replica of her daddy. “One face” is what they all say. He received that “charming” snap I sent and my package. I love you, baby! 

Your Eve

Bottom line is cut off by the V-mail and can't be read. 
At the top: P.S. Rae’s candy is delicious and I hope to mail it off tomorrow with the hankies. 

January 17, 1944 
1:00 P.M. 

Eve, dearest,

Only a few hours now before I must catch the train back to camp and there is much I haven't told you. Looking back, it isn't easy to set down events in their proper sequence, so I'll just touch on the high spots. I finally got around to seeing a musical comedy. It was “Striking a New Note.” It is a variety show, the cast being largely made up of kids of 16 or 17. The action is fresh and sparkling, and the music is largely jive. The dancing is fast and furious as is everything about the show—except the comedian, Sid Field. He holds forth for a full half hour on his first appearance. He takes his time, alright, but he is so excruciatingly funny that the audience didn't care if he never left the stage. He has a delicious sense of humor (pardon) humo-u-r, and his timing kept the audience laughing almost every moment of his tenure on stage. The glamor kid of the show is Zoe Gail, a tall, talented, sweet-faced young thing with long red/brown hair. But the specialty which brought the house down was Evelyn “Goofy” Barr (the Czechs spitfire) singing and clowning ”Long live me!” She is a shorty with an animated monkey-face and a body of a miniature Venus; but those gams—yeah man! (Wonder what there is about the name of Evelyn that endows the owner with nether-limbs of such remarkable beauty?) I could write and write about the show, Sweet, but time is short, so I'll just say it was swell—and I enjoyed myself very much, indeed. The rest of the time was taken up with just plain loafing and reading at the Hans Crescent, seeing a movie, Albert Hall and the W. London Synagogue. The movie was “And the Angels Sing” w/B. Hutton, D. Lamour, a coupla other cute chicks whose names escape me, F. McMurray, E. Foy, Jr., Raymond Walburn—and a more hilarious comedy and pleasing musical I haven't seen for a long, long time. The high spot, of course, is Hutton’s singing of “When Jrs. Wocking Hoss Wan Away.” If Hutton is a “fad,” then she is very far from palling, believe me. I enjoyed her clowning fully as much (or more) than I did in “Moider, he says,” remember? The other “Angels” are as pleasing to the ears as they are to the eyes. The “baby” of the family combines the face of an angel with the biting sarcasm of a spinster, and the combination is designed to tickle—and it does! If you want a good laugh, Honey, see this one! Yesterday aftern—wait a minute. Friday evening, after hunting about a good bit, I finally managed to find my way to the synagogue. It was a novelty in more ways than one—listen: A low ceilinged room, indirect lighting, severe modernistic paneling in ivory and gold, a melodion in the center of the floor, people—about 30 of them, sitting along the four walls on long, straight-backed benches, women and men intermingled, singing to the music of the melodion Sunday-school fashion, four elderly women dominating the singing with four beautiful bell-like voices. Then, the Rabbi preaching in English—lapsing from time to time into Hebrew with a limey accent. (I swear it!) After a half-hour of this surprising tableau, services were at an end, and a moment later, I was out in the cold, dark, damp London night, wondering if I hadn't dreamed at all—it was so “unreal.” 

Saturday evening, I came back to the Hans Crescent from the “Angel's Sing” to find the ballroom jumpin’. So I killed the rest of the evening sitting and watching the dancers and tapping my toes to the very nifty music and wishing—oh, so very much— that you were there for me to dance with. Baby, when I think of the good times I passed up—! I guess I could have danced—and I won't deny I wanted to—but the hell of it is; I want so much to dance with you that I have no stomach for dancing with just anyone. So I just sit and tap my toes and keep wishing— Occasionally, among the dancers, I seem to recognize a suggestion of your face, or a reasonable facsimile of your ever-lovin’ legs and my heart skips a beat and “the lump comes up” and I slink off to bed feeling very blue, indeed.—Which brings me to Sunday, and Albert Hall. You've heard about London fog, no doubt, well yesterday we really “had it.” It was so thick that it was impossible to see beyond your outstretched hand. In this eery atmosphere, then, I walked to the Hall. Since it can't be reached via the Tube, and taxis are downright dangerous and impractical in the impenetrable mists, walking was the only alternative. After a half hour’s groping in a world that seemed to be entirely populated by me, I “found” Albert Hall. It was just 2:30 and time for the concert to begin. When I took my seat in the Grand Circle and looked around at the immensity of the building, I was surprised to find that the fog had penetrated into the Hall. Although it was not nearly as thick as on the outside, the mist made the stage and podium appear very far away and indistinct. It was an all Beethoven program, and while I'm not partial to this music, it was far from displeasing. When it came time for the soloist, Ida Haendel, to appear, the manager took the podium long enough to announce Miss Haendel had been held up by the fog, and would play the finale. The audience (about 8000, I should say) greeted the announcement with roars of laughter. (Seems the “London fog” is a standing joke for the English.) I don't get it. The lengthy “Eroica” is exciting and tranquil at intervals and the very able Louis Cohen conducted with a fine appreciation and a great sensitivity for the various shadings of the music. After the intermission, during which I chatted with a white-haired gentleman sitting next to me—Ida Haendel! Picture her: very diminutive, as she walks slowly, violin and bow in hand, to stand beside the podium; Soft, thick, raven hair reaching, no, “collecting” on her shoulders, standing very straight, as if to add to her scant five feet nothing; full breasted, well-rounded arms and shoulders just a shade lighter than the full-skirted, ivory and gold evening dress. She stands, once the orchestra starts the prelude, very demurely, head a little bowed, squarely facing the stalls. Then, in one motion, the violin is tucked under her chin and half-facing the podium, and standing as still as if carved from the ivory she seems to be made of, she plays. The effect is astounding. From the very first note, the audience is in a trance. The only living and breathing thing in that vast place seems to be the tiny figure of Miss Haendel, motionless, except for the gracefully flowing bow and arm and the incredibly swift fingers of the left hand. She plays, tenderly, sweetly, with the song of the violin a woman's whispered caress; suddenly the mood changes, and she fills the utmost corners with the swelling, impetuous tones of a man in rage. And so it goes—through all three movements of the concerto. She makes a magic thing of the small wooden contrivance, she fills the very soul of the listener with tenderness—then anger—then contrition—with all the gamut of the emotions between. Through it all, she is a graven image, and the 8000 sit almost breathless at the portals of so much beauty. When the last note has flown, the audience sits tranquil a moment, figuratively licking its lips—then, as if with a single accord wild acclimation—the walls resound with the plaudits of the admiring mob. The tiny artist four times acknowledges, with a slight nod, and an even slighter smile, the frenzied thanks—and another memory is tucked away among those very special ones of yours ever-lovingly. And now my holiday is over, Sweet, and I must hie myself back to the mud and muck and good food (for a change) of my post. I close this with the earnest hope that my writings convey, in some small measure, some of the “good things” that were mine on this furlough, and knowing them, can gain some of my satisfaction for yourself. Au Revoir, my lovely. I love you—constantly and always. 

Your Phil